Helios. Hecate.

by Sandra Beasley, Winner of the 2007 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize

Each morning grandpa tills that field of stars;
I wake to blazing, cussing cuts of sun.
Four horses gallop races never won,
then kiss his whip and thank him for the scars.

When clouds swing low he’s smoking his cigars,
but I can hold my breath until he’s done.
I know his friends throw lightning just for fun,
know thunder’s just another deal of cards.

If shadows fall, they’re from my mama’s grasp.
Sometimes she curses wharf men with warm fish;
sometimes she blesses fish and wolves with whores.
She carries torches, loves the snake that clasps
her gilded neck. She left my father with
a child and other silly mortal chores.

Sandra Beasley is the author of three books: I Was the Jukebox, which won the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize; Theories of Falling, which won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize; and Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a memoir and cultural history of food allergies. She lives in Washington, D.C. “Helios. Hecate.” is part of the larger “Chronic Medea” series.

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